By: Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Divorce Attorney
Recently, a distressed client, I will call Casie, came to me. She feared for her future. Casie explained that her husband wanted a divorce and “claimed” he would “get” his lawful 50% of the house and her pension.
In her marital history, Casie had described valid reasons why it would not be fair for her husband to get a 50% share of the marital assets. Massachusetts is an Equitable Division state. This means a judge determines what is a fair division of the assets.
Casie’s marital history described events that, if believed by the judge, would make a 50/50 division unfair.
The law provides a list of certain factors a judge must consider in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned”* to each party. The required considerations are:
1. the length of the marriage,
2. the conduct of the parties during the marriage,
3. the age of each party,
4. the health of each party,
5. the station of the parties,
6. the occupation of each party,
7. the amount and sources of income of each party,
8. the vocational skills of each party,
9. the employability of each party,
10. the estate of the parties,
11. the liabilities and needs of each of the parties,
12. the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and
13. the amount and duration of alimony, if any, awarded.
In addition, the law says the judge may in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned” consider the following:
1. the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage,
2. the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates, and
3. the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit.
So, the 50/50 rule does not apply in Massachusetts, and the Rule of Equitable Division provides for the consideration of many factors before a division is made.
*You can read the actual law here: Mass Gen Law C.208, Sec.34